Derek McInnes admits he would have liked an answer from Graeme Shinnie on his future in January – but he still retains hope his skipper will sign a new deal.
Club captain Shinnie is out of contract at the end of the season and has been offered a lucrative new deal at Pittodrie. The Dons are in limbo as the 27-year-old Scotland international has yet to make a decision.
Ideally boss McInnes would like clarity as soon as possible.
Shinnie is on the radar of League One leaders Luton Town with boss Mick Harford admitting interest in the Scotland international midfielder.
Championship sides Hull City, Wigan Athletic and Brentford have also been monitoring the Aberdonian. And Premiership rivals Rangers have been linked with a potential pre-contract move.
McInnes insists he is not in the dark about his club captain’s future as he has regular discussions with Shinnie.
McInnes said: “Graeme and I speak every other day so I know exactly where he is with this.
“There is hope, of course there is, and we will see.
“I would have liked an answer yesterday, I would have liked an answer in January. We are still in the position where Graeme knows what we can do for him.
“I know how much he loves the club.
“I would like a bit more clarity on it but we speak every day about certain things and I know exactly where he is.
“And I am here to support Graeme make any of his decisions.”
The future of winger Gary Mackay-Steven is also up in the air as the Scotland cap is also out of contract at the end of the season.
McInnes is keen to retain the 28-year-old but faces a battle as MLS side New York City made an approach during the transfer window to talk to Mackay-Steven with a view to signing him.
Mackay-Steven is currently sidelined with an ankle injury and will not return until after the Premiership split next month. He is expected to have another scan on the problem in the coming days.
Shinnie, however, will lead out the Dons today at Tynecastle as McInnes’ side bid to extend an unbeaten away run to 10 games.
The manager was relieved his players returned fit from recent international duty. Shinnie and Scott McKenna were with the Scotland squad for the disastrous Euro 2020 qualifiers against Kazakhstan (3-0 loss) and San Marino (2-0 win).
Winger Niall McGinn started both Northern Ireland qualifiers, both wins, and scored in the 2-0 defeat of Estonia.
McInnes said: “There was that relief to get the players back in from international duty.
“Thursday was the first day for two weeks we had a full quota of players back in.
“It was good to see the numbers in training.”
Centre-back McKenna met up with the Scotland squad suffering from thigh tightness. He played in the 1-1 draw with Livingston with his leg heavily strapped up before flying out with Alex McLeish’s squad.
McKenna started against Kazakhstan and San Marino but is good to go to face Hearts.
McInnes said: “It says a lot about Scott that he was so keen to travel. It would maybe have ruled out some players from maybe travelling and making themselves available.
“I am fiercely supportive of my players wanting to play for their country.
“Scott wanted to get on that flight and thankfully he has had no real concerns with the thigh from the two games.”
Midfielder Dean Campbell returned from the recent Under-19 Euro qualifiers with the Scotland squad fully fit and is in contention to play at Hearts today.
Lewis Ferguson (thigh) and Connor McLennan (knee) both withdrew from the Scotland U21 squad but are fit to face Hearts.
McInnes said: “Tynecastle is quite a tight pitch and you need to fight for every area of space.
“You need to make sure you fight your corner.
“There will be a lot of good players on show from both teams and a strong atmosphere.
“Both sides have plenty to play for and we have to make sure we are ready for that.”
Aberdeen previously travelled to Tynecastle in much different circumstances.
When Hearts beat the Dons 2-1 on October 20 Craig Levein’s side were top of the table, and 10 points ahead of Aberdeen.
Now Aberdeen are five points clear of the Jambos.
McInnes said: “It was still early in the season and Hearts got off to a fantastic start but the league campaign is a long game.
“You need to have the confidence and work your way through it and hopefully you end up where you deserve to finish.”